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A food bank: This one is in Salford.

What is the point of the UK’s financial deficit reaching its lowest level since 2007, if the country’s citizens are being left destitute, families split, and individuals driven towards suicide because the government has deliberately taken away all means of supporting themselves?

That is the question we should be asking after the Trussell Trust revealed that use of its food banks rocketed by 13 per cent in the year from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.

The charity’s foodbank network distributed 1,332,952 three day emergency food supplies to people in crisis, a 13 per cent increase on the previous year. 484,026 of these went to children.

This is a higher increase than the previous financial year, when foodbank use was up by 6.64 per cent.

It has been claimed that the increase is because the Conservative government has failed to ensure that benefit payments can cover the cost of everyday essentials.

Not only that, but delays in providing benefits to new claimants – particularly the hated Universal Credit – were responsible for a large proportion of food bank referrals.

According to the Trussell Trust: “‘Low income – benefits, not earning’ is the biggest single, and fastest growing, reason for referral to a food bank, with ‘low income’ accounting for 28 per cent of referrals UK-wide compared to 26 per cent in the previous year. Analysis of trends over time demonstrates it has significantly increased since April 2016, suggesting an urgent need to look at the adequacy of current benefit levels.

“The other main primary referral reasons in 2017-18 were benefit delays (24 per cent) and benefit changes (18 per cent). New data about the types of benefit change driving food bank use is clear: whilst referrals due to ‘benefit sanction’ have declined over the last year, those due to ‘reduction in benefit value’ have the fastest growth rate of all referrals made due to a benefit change, and those due to ‘moving to a different benefit’ have also grown significantly.

“Universal Credit is not the only benefit people at food banks are experiencing issues with, but it is a significant factor in many areas. New analysis of food banks that have been in full UC rollout areas for a year or more shows that these projects experienced an average increase of 52 per cent in the twelve months after the full rollout date in their area. Analysis of food banks either not in full UC areas, or only in full rollout areas for up to three months, showed an average increase of 13 per cent.”

The Trust also said a survey of 284 people on UC, who had been referred to food banks, showed the adverse impact of the initial wait, the lack of available statutory support, the inability of UC payments to cover the cost of living for people who most need it, and poor administration.

The charity is consequently calling for benefit levels to be uprated in line with inflation to ensure payments keep pace with the cost of living, particularly for disabled people and families with dependent children who are particularly at risk of needing a foodbank, and for a requirement to be placed upon Local Authorities to deliver a true Universal Support service to everyone who starts a Universal Credit claim.

It is also asking for an urgent inquiry into poor administration within Universal Credit, so errors such as incorrect payments along with poor communication issues can be tackled.

Clearly, the Trussell Trust is not expecting to bid for any contracts from the Department for Work and Pensions in the near future, as organisations working for the rogue government department are bound by contract not to do anything that harms confidence in the DWP or its secretary of state, Esther McVey. The charity’s findings are clear evidence of the reason for this contractual requirement.

In Scotland, the rise in food bank use was higher than the UK average, according to the Daily Record which stated: “In the past year, the Trussell Trust reported a 17 per cent increase in people depending on their help to live, with 170,625 three-day emergency food supplies handed to those in crisis – of which 55,038 went to children.

“The Scottish rise was higher than the UK average increase of 13 per cent.

“Data for 2017-18 shows that benefit delays and sanctions remain the biggest reason for people being referred.”

The Daily Mirror hammered home the cruelty of the Conservative policy that Ms McVey is cruelly following, with the story of a woman who considered giving up her children in order to make sure they could eat.

That’s right: These filthy Conservatives are deliberately starving families into splitting up.

The paper quoted Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie, who said: “We collected stories of a stroke victim left with nothing when discharged from hospital as their benefits were stopped.

“A woman whose husband suffers from PTSD with money for the electric heating.

“And even a mother who considered giving up her own two children while she waited for her Universal Credit to come in so that they could finally get some food.

“Tens of billions of pounds have been taken out of our welfare system in recent years, and this process shows no signs of stopping.”

She was also quoted as saying for many UC is simply “not enough to make ends meet” and leaves people “locked into debt, hunger, destitution and misery”.

But don’t worry about that – public sector borrowing has dropped to £42.6 billion in the last financial year!

Strangely, none of the reports about the financial improvement seem to be explaining how it was managed.

Maybe it is bad for business to report a financial boost built on misery, poverty and suicide.

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